After an exhaustive, nationwide search, Herzl Camp leadership announced that longtime Jewish camp professional Josh Levine will be the next executive director. Levine will take the helm in January after moving to the Twin Cities. Levine succeeds Gary Kibort, who had been in the position for nine years, but announced in August that he would be stepping down from that role to a director of operations position.
“I’ve been an admirer of Herzl Camp for a long time, and I’m thrilled and honored to be its next executive director,” Levine said in a statement.
Levine had been the executive director of Camp Alonim, an independent pluralistic Jewish camp in California.
“While Camp Alonim is a much larger camp with an overnight camp, day camp, and a robust retreat center program, we share many commonalities as independent, pluralistic Jewish camps,” Herzl Camp Association board president Neil Fink said in a letter that was sent to the camp community Monday, Nov. 29 (Note: The editor’s wife is on the Herzl Camp Association board of directors). “Knowing Josh’s depth of experience and training, I am confident that great things lie ahead for Herzl Camp.”
Levine said that he found his passion for Judaism, Israel, and the Jewish community while growing up at Ramah California and then Camp Alonim as a camper, CIT, and summer staff. He worked as an attorney and law clerk for several years before going back to Alonim in 2010. In his time there, he was selected for several prestigious programs including the Wexner Foundation Field Fellowship and the Foundation for Jewish Camp’s Executive Leadership Institute. He also increased his Judaic knowledge in the M²: The Institute for Experiential Jewish Education and the JCC Association’s Lekhu Lakhem Fellowship.
Over his decade at Camp Alonim and as vice president of American Jewish University overseeing its Brandeis-Bardin campus where the camp is based, the organization grew significantly: Camper enrollment reached record levels and annual fundraising tripled. He secured grants for new teen opportunities, arts programs, Israel education, and wellness initiatives.
Herzl touted the partnerships Levine established with national organizations to advance inclusion efforts and increase professional development. He also launched year-round community programming, creating multi-generational Shabbat dinners, and a range of outreach events.
“Camp has a unique ability to enrich lives and build community. Counselors and activity leaders, many of whom were campers not long ago, become unforgettable role models as they care for and inspire the next generation — all in a creative and embracing Jewish setting,” Levine said. “This ‘l’dor v’dor’ dynamic is one reason camp is so good at helping people become the best versions of themselves, and why ‘camp people’ show up for one another and for the greater community for life.”
Josh will be the guest on next week’s Who The Folk?! Podcast, available everywhere you get your podcasts. Subscribe to find out when it’s available.